On Saturday I made hamburger buns that turned out really nice. To make them I adapted a French recipe I found on the internet. Credit for it goes to a man named Fred Chesneau [shay-no] who calls himself le globe cooker and periodically hosts a show called Les Nouveaux Explorateurs on the Canal+ television channel. You can find some of his shows on YouTube.
These buns are made with a pain brioché dough, which means it contains eggs and butter as well as yeast, flour, and salt. Chesneau's recipe calls for sugar, but I substituted honey to make my version. I also changed the instructions slightly, reflecting the order in which I mixed all the ingredients together. I made the dough using French T55 flour, which is the equivalent of U.S. all-purpose flour, and I used a 20-gram chunk of cake yeast (levure fraîche en cube), which I can buy at Intermarché and store in the freezer.
Brioche-style Hamburger Buns
Petits pains briochés — merci à Fred Chesneau
20 g fresh yeast (2 Tbsp.) *
250 ml warm milk
2 Tbsp. honey
100 g softened butter (7 Tbsp.)
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
500 g flour (4 U.S. cups)
1 level Tbsp. salt
In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), dissolve the fresh yeast in the warm milk with the honey. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt. When the yeast mixture is bubbly and foamy, add to it the softened butter and the egg yolks. Then add the flour and salt and mix all together by hand or using the stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes. It should be soft but not sticky. Carefully add more flour or milk as needed. Working on a floured surface, roll the dough into a log shape using your hands and then cut it into six equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place them all on a baking pan on parchment paper or a silicone baking pad. Let the buns rise in a warm place for two hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Flatten the balls of risen dough slightly. Brush the top of each one with beaten egg white and sprinkle on sesame or poppy seeds. Put them in the hot oven and bake them for 15 minutes. It's a good idea (but optional) to set a small bowl of hot water in the oven with the buns as they bake. The steam it releases into the hot oven will give the buns a good texture and help them rise as they cook.
Take the buns out of the oven and let them cool completely before using them. You can store them in the freezer for later use. We like to split them and toast them very lightly before making burgers with them.
We've been eating a lot of burgers this year, taking advantage of dry, warm (or even) hot weather to cook on the barbecue grill out on the terrace. We grind the meat — we've used beef, veal, and turkey at different times — using the food grinder attachment on our KitchenAid stand mixer, and I use the mixer to knead dough as well. I baked these buns on a black Teflon baking sheet that I bought at SuperU for about three euros. Supposedly, it's re-usable 1,000 times. Do they sell those in supermarkets in the U.S.?
I plan to use this recipe to make a loaf of pain brioché sandwich bread soon, using my Pullman-style covered pain de mie baking pan.
* Read about different types of yeast and measures here.